The game against Iowa State was Davis Webb’s first start and his coach liked what he saw.
Webb, Texas Tech’s backup quarterback, threw for three touchdowns and 415 yards in place of the injured Baker Mayfield to lead No. 20 Texas Tech over Iowa State 42-35 on Saturday.
"He played well," coach Kliff Kingsbury said of the freshman. "We have some throws out there that he’d like to have back and some things he could have hit, but I like the way he handled himself and stayed composed."
Webb was 35 for 56 with an interception and Kenny Williams, DeAndre Washington and Sadale Foster each ran for a score for Texas Tech (6-0, 3-0 Big 12). The Red Raiders are bowl eligible at their earliest date since 2008 in their first season under coach Kingsbury.
The Cyclones (1-4, 0-2) got a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from Jarvis West and 12 points off three turnovers by the Red Raiders.
The Cyclones pulled within 42-35 on a touchdown pass from Sam Richardson to E. J. Bibbs with less than 2 minutes left. Richardson was 15 for 38 for 168 yards and a touchdown.
Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said his team continues to show spunk.
"Our kids have been fighting right down to the very end and that’s very pleasing to a coach in a time where the record is below .500 and he’s getting his kids to play, getting his kids challenged and our kids continue to respond," Rhoads said.
Mayfield twisted his right knee in last week’s win at Kansas. In addition to Webb there’s redshirt sophomore Michael Brewer in the mix. Brewer reinjured his back but played in late in last week’s win. The same questions about who will start will be back for next week’s game at West Virginia, Kingsbury said.
"We’ve got three guys that can win ball games," he said. "Only one guy can play. They’re all competing, and they’re getting better. You can see that by their play the last couple of weeks."
Kingsbury doesn’t let his freshman talk to the media.
Mayfield and Webb have each thrown five interceptions.
"They’re young and they’re going to make mistakes," he said. "But 10 interceptions by week six, that’s too many. We’ll work on that and try to get those numbers down."
The Red Raiders finished with a season-high 251 yards rushing, with Washington, Williams and Foster each gaining at least 80.
"Our O-line did a good job moving bodies," Kingsbury said. "If it’s there we’ll take it."
Jace Amaro caught nine passes for 143 yards.
It was the first time in 25 games that the Cyclones allowed an opponent to score more than 40 points. That was the longest active streak in the Big 12.
Rhoads thought the turnovers gave the Cyclones a chance to win.
"We certainly were positive on that end today," he said. "But you’re not going to win football games giving up 666 yards. It’s just not going to happen. Too many easy plays, but Texas Tech is a very explosive offense with good players."
Texas Tech scored four out of five times it got into the red zone.
"That was big for us," Williams said. "We feel like we just can’t go down there and not get points. We can’t leave points on the field. That’s crunch time."
Texas Tech went up for good in the third quarter on a 12-yard touchdown catch by Bradley Marquez.
After Marquez’s touchdown, the Red Raiders appeared to score again on a fumble return by Sam Eguavoen after Richardson lost the ball at the Cyclones 35. But officials reviewed the play and ruled Richardson was attempting a side-arm pass.
Iowa State had just 139 total yards at halftime, to 354 by Texas Tech. But big special teams plays kept the Cyclones in the game.
"They’re a talented team," Kingsbury said. "We knew we had to play well."
West returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown midway through the first quarter. It was the first non-onside kick return for a touchdown for Iowa State since 1994.
In the second quarter, an Iowa State punt hit Texas Tech’s Keenon Ward downfield. It was recovered for the Cyclones by Levi Peters, and a few plays later Aaron Wimberly scored on a 4-yard run off the option pitch from Richardson to make it 14-14.